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HISTORY OF RAIL IN RAJASTHAN – welcome to rajasthan history


Railway Rajasthan
Rajasthan Railway bechdee

The first full scale working railway steam locomotive was built in the United Kingdom in 1804 by Richard Trevithick. World's first railway journey took place On 21st February 1804, as Trevithick's unnamed Steam locomotive hauled a train along the Rail transport of the Penydarren iron works, near Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales. In 1814 George Stephenson, inspired by the early locomotives of Trevithick and others, built the Blucher locomotive, one of the first successful Flange-wheel adhesion locomotives. Stephenson played a pivotal role in the development and widespread adoption of the steam locomotive. It was not until 1825 that the success of the Stockton and Darlington Railway proved that the railways could be made as useful to the general shipping public as to the colliery owner. The world's first trunk line can be said to be the Grand Junction Railway, opening in 1837, and linking a midpoint on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway with Birmingham, by way of Crewe, Stafford, and Wolverhampton.


The first rail system plan for India was put forward in 1832, but nothing could be done for next 12 years. In 1844 A.D., the Governor General of India Lord Hardinge insisted private entrepreneurs to set up a rail system in India. Two railway companies were created and the East India Company was asked to assist them. Interest from a lot of investors in U.K. led to the rapid creation of a rail system in India. The first train in India became operational on 22nd December 1851 and was used for the hauling of construction material in Roorkee. The first passenger train between Bori Bunder, Bombay and Thana covering a distance of 33.66 km (21 miles) was inaugurated, On 16 April 1853. The British government encouraged the setting up of railway companies by private investors under a scheme which assured a guarantee of an annual return of 5% during the initial years of operation. After completion of work, the company was to be transferred to the government, but the original company would hold operational control. Thus the development of railways in India started on all sides. The rail network had a route mileage of 9,000 miles (14,500 km) by 1880, mostly radiating inward from the three major port cities of Bombay, Madras and Calcutta. By 1895 India had started building it's own locomotives. In 1896 some railway engineers and locomotives were sent to Uganda to construct Uganda Railways.


The trade in Rajputana till the mid of 19th century, was carried on animals like bullocks, camels, ponies and donkies; and animal driven carts. The outbreak of 1857 put the factor of urgency for the rapid development of roads, railways and telegraph lines in Rajputana. Government of India advised the native states to undertake the construction of these facili¬ties for movement of military troops for the maintenance of law and order and to encourage trade and commerce.


The railway construction in Rajputana was linked up with British general policy of guarantee. The policy determining the routes was governed by the 'grand trunk lines' concept according to which the interior had to be connected with the ports of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. The guarantee system as it had been evolved, ensured extremely costly railway cons¬truction, bordering on almost extravagance. The guarantee of 5% return on all capital from the date of investment made the railway companies reckless in their expenses. Sir John Lawrence opposed this system and initiated a policy of state construction of railways which held ground for about a decade. A narrower metre gauge, was adopted to bring down the cost of construction. The railway develop¬ment, during this phase of government policy, was designed to connect Delhi with Ahmedabad. When the various propo¬sals for determining the direction of Delhi Ahmedabad railway line were under discussion, the AGG protested against giving undue importance to Neemuch, Dausa and Nasirabad. He stressed that Ajmer and Sambbar were the two 'obligatory points' which should determine the railway line. This and the earlier Delhi-Bombay trunk route via Sawai Madhopur and Kota passed through Rajsthan. The railway route nearly bisected the entire region. The individual states were requested to cede lands for railways in perpetuity including all property which may be situated on the lands ceded to the Government, to surrender full jurisdiction short of soverign rights for offences on thy railways passing through the territory of the states and to surrender all transit duties on through traffic.



The native rulers did not welcome the government's general policiy. In 1865-66, Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur raised certain objections which pertained to the payment of compensation for land and building on land ceded to the British Government; as also to the surrender of jurisdiction over railway lands. All the concerned states were asked to agree to the conditions proposed by the British Government by March 1867. After a long debate, a majority of the states agreed to the con¬ditions and in February 1868 Ram Singh also agreed to all the conditions proposed by the British Government. But his consent was obtained on an assurance of looking after his interests. While communicating his consent he wrote that he was doing so 'fully relying on (the British) Government protecting his interests in every possible way.' He still more pointedly mentioned that the Government should see that all points in the dispute were settled not only in accordance with law and justice but with the circumstan¬ces of the country, the manners and feelings of the people.


The work of survey and laying down the railway line was carried out by English teams. The old practice of attaching a local court official with the team was not generally adopted since, at a number of places, complaints of exploitation of local people by the Durbar officials were received. In 1877 the railway from Delhi and Agra to Bandikui, Ajmer and Nasirabad was declared open to traffic and thereafter every year the railway construction progressed satisfactorily. The first rail line in Rajputana, Agra - Bharatpur was built in 1873 under Rajputana-Malwa railway. It was extended up to Ajmer on 1st August 1875 and further extended up to Naseerabad on 14th Febuary 1876. The total length of railways in Rajputana, including the British District of Ajmer-Merwara, was 652 miles in 1881, 943 in 1891, 1,359 in 1901, and 1,576 miles in 1906 A.D., Out of which 739 miles track was the property of the Government of India and the rest was owned by various Native States. Out of 1,576 miles track, 1,528 miles track was on the metre-gauge system and only 48 miles track was on narrow-gauge system.


At the time of indepandance, the oldest and most important track was the Rajputana-Malwa rail line which belonged to Government of India and had a total length in Rajputana of about 720 miles. Starting from Ahmadabad, it entered the Rajputana near Abu Road in the south-west, and ran north¬-east to Bandikui, whence one branch led to Agra and another to Delhi. It also had branches from Ajmer south to Nimach and from Phulera north-east to Rewari. With the exception of the chord last mentioned, which was a later extension, the line was constructed between 1874 and 1881. This line was working on be¬half of Government of India by B.B.& C.I. (Bombay, Baroda, and Central India) Railway Company since 1885. Before 1882, the Rajputana-Malwa Railway was known as the Rajputana State Railway. It was a Metre gauge 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 inch) railway line which ran from Delhi to Indore Junction and to Ahmedabad. It was opened on 18 August 1876. The Railway was renamed as Rajputana-Malwa Railway when a new line from Ajmer to Khandwa via Ujjain and Mhow was added to it. On 9th March 1885, Jodhpur was connected to this network from Marwar Junction with meter gauge track and later became part of the Jodhpur - Bikaner Railway.


The Rajputana - Malwa Railway, under the management of the Government of India, was completed in 1879-80. The ma¬nagement of this railway was leased out by the Government to B.B.&C.I. Railway on 1st January 1885 for 20 years in the first instance. Rajputana - Malwa Railway was not able to meet the operational expenses plus interest on capital invested even under the management of Government of India. The management of private companies was already very heavy. Thus the way the railways were being managed did not attract the Native chiefs to invest money in railway construction. The rail¬way construction and management was a source of employ¬ment for a large number of high salaries non-technical Eng¬lishmen and thus formed part of the process of drain of a large amount of money which could have been utilised in paying off the guaranteed interest. The management either under the private companies or the British Government thus was not likely to leave any money for addition to the state exchequer by the way of revenue.


The only other Government line in Rajputana was the Indian Midland section of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, which ran for about 19 miles through the then Dholpur State between Agra and Gwalior. It was on the broad gauge, and was opened for traffic in 1878.


It was a great surprise that the Government was in loss in operating the Railway but some native chiefs came forward to construct raliways for their own states. Thus the second phase of railway construction began. Some major states like Jodhpur and Jaipur took it upon themselves to finance railway construction in their territories. It began after Jodbpur's request to place Pali on the main route to Ahmedabad. This proposal was turned down by the Government because it would lengthen the route by eleven Kms. The state had to plan the construction of Marwar-Pali-Jodbpur line of its own. The British Government gave permission only after great persua¬sion for constructing the proposed railway line even though Jodhpur was financing it. Seth Sumermal Umedmal of Ajmer assured the payment of a sum of Rs. 3 lakhs by way of security for the survey and laying down expenses of the railway line. The permission was given when Jodhpur had agreed for inspection and approval of the railway line by officers of the Government owned railway. In July 1882, Marwar-Pali section was opened to traffic, by March 1885 the railway to Jodhpur had been declared open. The cost of rail¬way construction and extension was much below the estimate. The Jodhpur railway gave 10% return on the investment though the administrative report tried to give a contingent justification for it. In the report on the working of the Jodhpur railway, there was a net return of 11.93% during 1886-87. The Government was surprised at the high rate return and said that so large percentage of return cannot be expected in the long run, as the line, engines and rolling stock would require repairs and renewals from time to time.


SOME states undertook extension of railways by finan¬cing the cost and entrusting the work of construction either to the British Government or to one of the companies already running a railway line. The Sanganer-Sawai Madhopur rail¬way was planned by Jaipur state in this way in 1884-85. The total cost of the line was about Rs. 25 lakhs. The railway line was sO planned that it avoided the states of Tonk and Bundi and connectpd two important trade centres- Sambhar Salt area and the Harauti grain belt. It was hoped that it would make good returns on investment.


In 1888 the Political Officer of Bikaner sate drew up a plan of railway construction to open the interior areas of the state of Jodhpur and Bikaner to increase trade and commerce. The British Governmert was anxious to connect the Indus Valley with Rajputana states and therefore approval to the proposal of Jodbpnr-Bikaner Railway was easily given. The B.B.C.&C.I. Railway also promi¬sed not to enter into competition with the planned railway. At this time Bikaner was under minority administration; therefore the political agent's scheme was not apposed by any one in the state. The Resident at Jodhpur could easily persuade the Jodhpur Durbar to agree to the construction of JOdhpur-Bikaner rail¬way specially when Bikaner was ready to advance to Jodhpur a sum of Rs. 20 lacs @ 4% interest. The repayment was also assured to Bikaner by the British Government out of the annual Salt royalty payments falling due to Jodhpur. Jodhpur had no objection to this railway pro¬ject. Jodhpur had experience of the profitable working of the railway and thought of a greater return to the State from the proposed railway. After some discussion the two States agreed to cede full civil and criminal jurisdiction over the land occcupied by the railway to the Government of India whenever the latter considered it desireable. Separate agreements were executed by the two states in 1889. The management of rail¬way was entrusted to the manager. Jodbpur Railway was to begin from the Jodhpur side. It was to be opened to inspection at all times by an officer of the Government of India. The two states shared the running expenses as also the profits of the railway within their respective territories. The Jodhpur-Bikaner railway began in 1889. It's length in Rajputana was 700 miles, 455 belonging to Jodhpur and 245 to Bikaner and 124 additional miles, situated in British territory, were under the same management.

The line started from Marwar junction on the Rajputana-Malwa system, and ran north-west for 44 miles till it reached the Luni river, whence there were two branches, one almost due west to Hyderabad (Sind), where it met the North-Western Railway, and the other generally north-by-north-east past Jodhpur, Merta Road, and Bikaner to Bhatinda in the Punjab. From Merta Road, an another branch ran east, joining the Rajputana-Malwa line at Kuchaman Road, not far from the Sambhar Lake. The Jodhpur-Bikaner Railway was constructed gradually between 1881 and 1902, and the total capital outlay of the two States to the end of 1904 was about 173 lakhs; in the year last mentioned the net receipts exceeded 13.5 lakhs, thus yielding a return of nearly 8 per cent on the capital outlay.

The average return of Jodhpur-railway was about 10% on the capital outlay. In 1906 the gross working expenses were about 42% of the gross earning, a far more economical working than the manage-ment established by railway, companies or by British Govern¬ment. The earning from the Rajputana-Malwa railway during 1877-85 were not able to meet the operational expenses plus guaranteed interest on capital invested in railway const¬ruction. The Jodhpur-Bikaner Railway proved to be very useful during the famine of 1899-1900 and prevented a greater loss of life and cattle. Besides, opening up a new area British trade and commerce, it certainly acted as a helping auxiliary to mop up the marketable agricultural produce consequent upon land revenue settlements introduced under British supervision. It brought the agricultural population of the both States under imperial policies; it also led to an incre¬ased trade in British goods in the region.


The Ajmer workshop of the Rajputana - Malwa Railway, was established in 1879. The F-734, the first locomotive built in India, was built by the Ajmer workshop in 1895. This locomotive with outside connecting and side rods was used on Rajputana-Malwa and B.B.&C.I. Railway systems.

1st engine made in india.jpg


The remaining Railway line in Rajasthan was the Udaipur-Chitor, a portion of the Bina-Guna-Baran. It connected the towns after which it was named. It was 67 miles in length, and was the property of the Udaipur Durbar, by whom it was constructed between 1895 and 1899, and by whom it was working since 1898. The capital expenditure up to the end of 1904 was nearly 21 lakhs, and the net profits average about 5 per cent.


In the south-east corner of the Province, the Kotah Darbar owned the last 29 miles of the Bina-Guna-Baran (broad gauge) line, which was opened for traffic in 1899, and had since been worked by the Great Indian Peninsula Railway. The section within Kotah territory had cost more than 17 lakhs but the net profits average only about 1.5 per cent. The line also ran for 22 miles through the Chhabra district of Tonk, later on, this portion owned by the Gwalior State.


The Rajputana-Malwa railway was absorbed by the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway (B.B.&C.I.) in 1900.


Control over the management of railway lines in native states was an important issue. The Government Of India was not in a position to itself invest large amounts of money in railway construction in the states but at the same time it did not en¬courage the control of railway administration to be vested in the state authorities. Even when the state govemments were keen to undertake schemes of railway extension, a lot of corr¬espondence took place before arriving at final agreement on the question of entrusting control over the railways to state governments. The terms of the agreement depended on the capacity of state governments to extract concessions.

There were many differences between native states and Government Of India on the issue of operation of a railway. The agreement of 1906 between Jaipur Durbar nnd B.B.&C.I. Railway, clearly provided that the working expenses charged to the Jaipur Durbar on account of the Sawai Madhopur Railway shall be the same percentage of the gross earning of the State railway as shall be the case with the entire B.B.&C.I. Railway. The Durbar also bore the cost of Police Force over and above the running expenses. The recruitment opportunities for the people were also considerably circumscribed by the phrase, 'so far as is possible'. The Jaipur Durbar had to bear many heads of expenditures which virtually consumed surplus earning falling to the late of the Durbar. Clause 7 and 24 of the Agreementof 1906 with the B.B.&C.I. Railway provided for debitting of some extra losses to the Durbar account besides the above police force expenses. Even after maharaja Ram Singh's death, the Jaipur Durbar got many appre¬ciations which were denied to Jodhpur. Jodhpur was able to recruit it's people in manning it's railway system in a much larger measure than Jaipur.

The unattractiveness of the proposal of by line a railway being managed either by the B.B.&C.I. Railway or by the British Government was apparent to anyone. The Maharana of Mewar had seen in mail cart case of 1892-94 how the British officials and the Mewar Prime Minister had been deeply involved. He was not willing to transfer the jurisdiction over the Chittore - Udaipur line to British and was anxious to operate the line under States management. As a technique of resistance the Maharana abandoned his desire to extend the railway line. However, after persuation by the AGG, the Maharana agreed to revive the proposal but only on the condition that it would be run under the Durbar's control. The B.B.&C.I. Railway operated the Chittore - Debari line during 1895-97; after 1897 the Durbar operated it. The Mewar Durbar succeeded in minimising the cost of railway construction. Later the railway line proved profitable and earned more than 10% return on the money invested besides providing for employment to the local people.


It would be difficult to estimate the benefits and impacts which the railway had conferred on the inhabitants of Rajputana. But this is true that without rail, thousands of persons and cattle would have died in 1899-1900 during the periods of famine. Rail had the effect of levelling and steadying prices, and preventing local distress from disorganizing rural economy, and had brought about the general advancement of material prosperity by stimulating the cultivation of marketable produce. As for the influence which railways had exercised on the habits of the people, it may be said that they had a tendency to relax slightly the observance of caste restrictions, and to introduce a good deal of local and a sprinkling of English words into everyday use. The advantages which fell to the lot of the people were only incidental which cannot provide a cover to the imperial motives of the British administration.

The railway construction affected the trade routes and the developments of new towns. Bikaner's transit trade was adversely affected. Formerly Bhiwani and Jodhpur were con¬nected through Bikaner, now the traders of Bhiwani adopted Ajmer-Sambbar-Marwar rail route. Similar was the case for the opium traffic from Malwa to other parts of North-Western India. The improvement in the railways led to an accelerated pace of trade. Easy approach and comparative safety of the routes led to a fast growth in the volume of trade.


The question of customs duty along these routes acquired a importance which was not earlier. The railways helped the launching of a major official offensive against transit duties because goods now passed easily from one state to another without the payment of transit duties if the bulk was not broken up. The jurisdiction over the railways had been surrendered to the British and the state governments could not have prevented the movement and import of English goods. The entry points were, after the railway system, so many that realisation of customs duty at entry points would have become almost impossible. The states were thus under considerable pressure for the abolition of transit and customs duties. They did so in stages. Jaipur abolished transit and customs duties on food grains in the wake of famine of 1868; a few months later Kota abolished these duties; Mewar abolished them for one year. But the drive was for abolition of duties on all articles of commerce. In 1885, Jaipur abolished transit duties on feeder roads to the Rajputana Malwa railway except on opium. Bharatpur followed it in July 1884. Jaipur enhan¬ced the duties on articles consumed within the state to recoup the loss of revenue. In course of time, this became the common pattern; all articles of consumption in the states of Rajasthan became costlier. In 1887, Mahrana Fateh Singh while cele¬brating the golden jubilee of victoria's accession, abolished all transit duties. Jodhpur, under British advice, replaced the different duties in every district by a Central duty which had to be paid on entry in the state. This new duty consicerable inconvenience and made things costlier for the people of the State.


At the time of independance, the western portion of Jodhpur and Bikaner Railway was ceded to the government of Pakistan. The rest portion was taken over by Rajasthan state in 1949. The Western Railway was created on 5th November 1951 by the merger of several state-owned railways, including the B.B.&C.I. Railway and the Saurashtra Railway, Rajputana Railway and Jaipur State Railway. The Narrow gauge lines of Cutch State Railway was also merged into it. The divisions of w railway in Rajasthan were Jaipur division, Ajmer division and kota division.


The Northern Railway came in to existence in 1952. It was one of the Indian Railways largest zones. Bikaner division and Jodhpur division were attached with it.


The Jaipur and Ajmer divisions of the Western Railway, and Jodhpur and Bikaner divisions of Northern railway became part of newly created North Western Railway in 2002. The total length of this railway in Rajasthan is 5,459 kms.


Kota division of the Western Railway became part of the newly created West Central Railway in April 2003.


Today, there is 5780.06 kms. of railway track available in Rajasthan, out of which 4465.12 kms. of broad gauge, 1228.24 kms. of metre gauge and 86.70 kms. of narrow gauge. Rail is playing an important role in gross state domestic product and providing employment to lacs of people in Rajasthan. Life can not be imagined without rail.

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